Feature Article - June 2017
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State of the INDUSTRY

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


Respondents from urban communities were the most likely to report an increase in the number of people using their facilities from 2014 to 2015, and were the most likely to expect further increases in 2017 and 2018. Some 59.2 percent of urban respondents said usage had increased in 2015, compared with 53.5 percent of suburban respondents and 50.2 percent of rural respondents. From 2016 to 2017, 62.2 percent of urban respondents projected an increase in the number of people using their facilities, compared with 57.4 percent of suburban and 49.6 percent of rural respondents. And from 2017 to 2018, 63.9 percent of urban respondents are expecting an increase in usage, compared with 55.9 percent of suburban respondents and 48.8 percent of rural respondents.

From 2015 to 2016, respondents from parks, community centers and health clubs were the most likely to report that the number of people using their facilities had increased, while those from schools and colleges were the least likely to report an increase. Some 61.4 percent of parks respondents said usage of their facilities increased from 2015 to 2016. They were followed by community recreation centers (61.1 percent) and health clubs (55.3 percent). Just 34.5 percent of schools and 41.3 percent of colleges said that the number of people using their facilities went up from 2015 to 2016.

Looking forward, Ys, community recreation and sports centers, and health clubs were the most likely to expect the number of people using their facilities to increase. From 2016 to 2017, some 66.1 percent of Y respondents, 65 percent of community center respondents and 64.9 percent of health club respondents said they expect increasing numbers of users at their facilities. From 2017 to 2018, 68.2 percent of Y respondents, 64.3 percent of community center respondents and 62.9 percent of health club respondents said they expect an increase.

Staffing

The average number of people employed at the organizations covered by the survey has seen steady growth over the past three years, rising 16.9 percent, from an average of 126.3 in 2014 to 147.6 in 2017. This includes 30.2 full-time employees, 40.9 part-time employees, 39.5 seasonal employees, 34.9 volunteers and 2.1 "other" workers. (See Figure 19.)


Ys continue to employ far more people than any other type of facility, with an average of 261.7 employees. They were followed by parks and recreation respondents, with an average of 170.4 employees, and colleges and universities, with 132.5. Community recreation and sports centers, and schools & school districts employ the smallest staffs, with 101 and 101.8 employees, respectively.

Schools and school districts have the largest number of full-time workers, with an average of 54.6. They were followed by colleges, with 35, and Ys with 31.9. Community recreation and sports centers have the fewest full-time employees, with an average of 13.5

Ys employ the most part-time workers with an average of 98.8. They were followed by colleges and universities with 68.7, and health clubs with 58.5.

Camp and park respondents have the greatest number of seasonal employees. Camps employ 58.9 seasonal employees, on average, while parks employ 55.9 on average.

The highest number of volunteers were to be found among Ys, followed by camps and parks. Ys had 78.3 volunteers, on average, while parks had 44.7 and camps had 49.4.

Over the past five years, the percentage of respondents who report that they are planning to add more staff has grown, from 14.9 percent in 2013 to 20.8 percent in 2017. At the same time, the percentage planning to cut staff has fallen from 6.3 percent in 2013 to 4.1 percent in 2017. (See Figure 20.) Three-quarters of respondents (75 percent) say that they will maintain their current staff levels.


On average, respondents with plans to bring on additional help are planning to add 21 employees, on average, in 2017. This is virtually the same as 2016, when respondents were planning to add 20.7 employees. Respondents in 2017 are planning to add, on average, 2.5 full-time employees, 5.8 part-time employees, 5.5 seasonal employees and 7.1 volunteers. Those facilities that are planning to bring on the greatest number of workers in the coming year include Ys, which plan to hire 36.7, on average, parks (23.8) and camps (23.7). Community centers and health clubs will add the fewest additional workers, with an average of 9.9 and 10.5, respectively.